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Environment, consumer protection, & government accountability bills are still in play, crunch time for other priorities. Scam alerts: Starbucks phone app, and cancer charities.
May, 2015
Heading into the final month of the legislation session, important bills are still in play, other ideas are on hold, and balancing the budget means tough choices.
Walking back to the office at night
The Oregon Constitution allows the legislature to meet in regular session for a maximum of 160 days in odd-numbered years.  With an ending date no later than July 11 and proposed ending of June 26, every hour counts now as legislators seek amendments to get votes that will satisfy enough committee members for a Yes vote to move the bill out of committee, and then through both the House and Senate.

Budget recommendations are being polished to adopt balanced budgets for human services, health care, and public safety.  Choices are especially tough when advocates make a good case and the need is well established; it's hard to provide less than what was proposed.  Here is an example of a key challenge: The cost of some programs rise faster than others, for example case loads for senior and disabled programs, especially considering that the number of seniors is growing faster than school aged children.

Another priority of mine is an economy that works for everyone: as we increase the state's rate to pay community providers for services to children, seniors, and disabled, I want to ensure that a significant part of that increase goes to workers' wages.  For example, I visited with residents' parents and workers at group homes taking care of disabled persons; these are very difficult and physically demanding jobs that pay barely above minimum wage.

The House is voting on up to a few dozen bills a day now. The variety of subjects is always amazing. Here's a bill expected to come through soon: requiring hospital scrub techs to be trained and certified just like doctors and nurses. Their duties include sponging or suctioning an operative site; transferring fluids or drugs; and applying electrocautery to clamps on bleeders. Last Thursday, we revised the membership of the Government Ethics Commission and revised definitions for dog control laws.

I'm appreciating the value of weekends at home, doing laundry, gardening, cooking, and going to an exercise class to take a mental break!

Very big, very small, and big money

Wayne Morse Scholar
Celebrating with a Wayne Morse Scholar
Fracking:  Oregon currently has no regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and no requirement for companies to disclose the chemicals they are using.  House Bill 3415-A requires the State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries and the Department of Environmental Quality to review Oregon's laws regarding fracking; that will prepare us for future regulation.  We are hearing from people who are unhappy that this bill does not go far enough to prevent fracking from happening in Oregon.  The original intent of the bill was a 10 year moratorium on fracking, but without sufficient political support, the choice is now whether to do something, or do nothing. I believe we should do something, to ensure that water quality and chemical disclosure regulations are reviewed and updated to reflect new practices.

Microbeads:  I'm phasing out my microbead face wash in favor of using natural alternatives - like ground fruit seeds and nuts!  The House has recently passed House Bill 3478-A which phases in a prohibition on the manufacture and sale of products containing synthetic plastic microbeads.  While microbeads might seem like a micro-problem, these tiny plastic beads are having a macro-impact on the environment.  Once these millions of small beads wash down drains they can absorb toxins, bypass sewer and water treatment filters due to their minuscule size, and harm fish and wildlife when they end up in streams and rivers.  This bill is currently being considered by the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.  Let's say goodbye to these tiny little toxins.  Fact sheet from NCEL.

Tax Avoidance - ending safe harbor in The Netherlands.  House Bill 2099 adds the Netherlands to Oregon's list of tax haven countries.  This means that income that companies report in tax haven countries will be treated as domestic income for Oregon's tax purposes.  The U.S. loses $90 billion a year to tax schemes that involve shifting corporate income to tax haven subsidiaries.  With this bill, Oregon can tax income that originated here and not lose out on millions of dollars of revenue.
Housing advocates lobbying me...
where else? in the lobby
Protecting health, air, and water

Overuse of antibiotics.  The overuse of antibiotics when not medically necessary has led to a dangerous situation with drug-resistant bugs that are hard to fight.  I supported House Bill 2598 which would have prohibited administering antibiotics to livestock for non-medically necessary reasons.  It didn't move forward this session, but another bill with the same objective is still possible. Senate Bill 920-A has been moved to the Senate Committee on Rules.  This is important legislation to help protect the health of everyone who is eating meat or drinking milk from livestock that has been subject to the overuse of antibiotics.  We need to protect the efficacy of life saving antibiotics, and this bill is an important first step.  

Aerial spraying of pesticides.  My office has been closely tracking the status of multiple bills introduced this session targeted at the practice of aerial pesticide spraying.  Senate Bill 613 would have required notice when any aerial spraying of pesticides occurs on private forestland and allowed the Oregon Health Authority to investigate suspected cases of pesticide poisoning. It didn't pass out of committee by the session deadline.  House Bill 3549, however, may still be possible. It requires the Department of Forestry to collect and analyze information on the sufficiency of Oregon's existing legal requirements related to this practice.  It would be a step in protecting people and land in close proximity to forest land that is being sprayed.
Hearing Room Greeting
Eugene rail advocate comes to  speak at Salem committee hearing
Working hard to get my bills through the Senate!

Two of my best bills that passed the House are facing some corporate opposition in the Senate; I'm pressing hard to get them past these hurdles.

Toughening up Oregon's public contracts. HB 2375 will require state agencies to start with standard forms and templates approved by experts in contracts and law, and require training for anyone who manages contracts, to ensure we're getting what we pay for.

Helping college students: HB 2832 will place tighter controls on fees and other conditions of student debit cards, and require schools to make public the content of those contracts with third party financial firms.

Justice: We've spent hundreds of hours over the last year working on this one.  What if I told you that a municipal or county justice court judge can try criminal cases, and put someone in jail, but doesn't need to have a law degree, or even a single course in the law? And that a local judge can refuse to let a defendant or prosecutor make a recording of what goes on court? My bill will raise the bar for local Oregon courts, and ensure a minimum standard of access to justice throughout the state. HB 3399 passed the House; it's still in the Senate.
Box Trolls NN and Taylor
Working with a colleague outside the hearing room, but look who else was there -
the Box Trolls!
Status report: bills passed

Passed and waiting for Gov. Brown's signature:

The CARE Act: The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act requires hospitals to identify family caregivers and provide them with a demonstration of the care their loved one needs when they return  home.  HB 3378 mirrors legislation promoted by AARP in other states.

Improving passenger train service:
HB 3401 directs ODOT to study operational and infrastructure improvements to improve on-time performance, such as parallel tracks, sidings, switches, and separated grade crossings, and to improve schedules and take other steps to increase ridership.

Protecting Tenant-Owners in Manufactured Home Parks: (reported in March enews)

Streamlining bureaucracy and helping people who need help: HB 2219 aims to consolidate multiple application processes into a single form when applying for assistance with housing, food, health care, winter heating, and other safety net services.  A work group of human service agencies will work on it. Oregonians shouldn't spend hours filling out repetitive applications for multiple programs, and agencies shouldn't spend hours doing duplicate work reviewing applications with the same information.

Already signed by Governor Brown:

More cutting red tape
: HB 2231 streamlines credentialing processes for mental health and chemical dependency treatment providers to reduce time and money spent on redundant administrative processes, redirecting their resources to helping kids and families.

Helping Runaway and Homeless Youth: HB 2232 will coordinate statewide planning for delivery of services to runaway and homeless youth and their families.

Delgani String Quartet
Eugene's Delgani String Quartet played in the House Chamber.
Their music was heavenly. 
Scam alert: Starbucks mobile app

If you use the Starbucks mobile app to pay for your coffee, criminals may be able to siphon money from your bank account.  Scammers have been changing account passwords of some customers and transferring balances to themselves.  If you have the "auto-reload" function on your app turned on, scammers have access to your bank account.  Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum urges you to immediately turn off the auto-reload function.  AG Rosenblum urges caution when allowing any app to access your personal and financial information.

A.G. sues rip-off cancer charities

This is painful to learn about: Attorney General Rosenblum is joining other states in filing suit against four cancer charities. The charities claimed that they provided direct support to cancer patients, including pain medication, transportation to chemotherapy, and hospice care. Instead, it appears that they used the organizations to great benefit for their own family and friends, spending donated money on cars, trips, cruises, college tuition, gym memberships, jet ski outings, sporting events, concert tickets, and dating site memberships. Hired professional fundraisers often received 85 percent or more of every donation.  Department of Justice news release.
Nancy Nathanson, State Representative | 541-343-2206 | rep.nancynathanson@state.or.us